This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Evana Network partners with Tabor College

On Feb. 10, the Evana Network, an evangelical Anabaptist network of congregations, announced a formal fraternal relationship with Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas. Tabor is connected to the U.S. Mennonite Brethren Church.

John Troyer, Evana’s executive director, notes that this partnership has a dual impact: It signals a connection to a school aligned with Evana’s stated mission, vision and values, and it provides a key resource for graduate studies in ministerial and entrepreneurial leadership.

“Tabor is a good fit with who we are and what we’re about,” says Troyer. “As parents are thinking about higher education, there is a place that is saying to Evana, We are really in with you on what you are doing, and there is a confidence in terms of being able to participate with them.”

When the Evana Network was founded in 2015, it opened the door for fraternal relationships with organizations, including colleges. Since its founding, faculty and staff from Tabor have been in conversation with Evana Network staff, even attending its 2016 summer convention.

“We hope our relationship with Evana will provide an even stronger bond with pastors and churches that share our same values,” Jules Glanzer, Tabor’s president,  said in a Feb. 10 press release. “Likewise, we know our students, faculty and staff will benefit from the resources and opportunities that come from working together.”

This is the first formal partnership with a college announced by Evana, although they are also in the process of exploring partnership with Fresno (California) Pacific University, another U.S. Mennonite Brethren School. Troyer serves on the Seminary Committee at FPU. Evana is also in regular conversation with leaders from three conference groups who recently left Mennonite Church USA—Franklin Mennonite Conference, Lancaster Mennonite Conference and North Central Mennonite Conference—although no formal partnership arrangement has been announced.

The Evana Network launched in October 2015 and today includes 30 member congregations. Twenty-nine of these congregations were previously or are currently also affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. In order to engage with Evana, leaders of member congregations must sign on to Evana’s covenant of belief. However, Evana has two different tracks—development and support—and congregations can choose to engage one or both.

According to Troyer, the heart of Evana’s work focuses on development and resourcing congregations for mission in their local communities. “Our focus is much more on doing what we can in helping churches engage with communities,” says Troyer. “That particular way of working is so different in terms of what is often done in traditional conference and denomination models.”

However, Evana can also provide support for congregations, including credentialing, care for pastors and help in working through congregational conflict, he says.

This winter, from Jan. 8-12, Evana hosted a retreat for pastors and spouses featuring Bruxy Cavey, pastor of The Meetinghouse, a large Anabaptist congregation in Oakville, Ontario. The network is also planning for the second annual ReGen convention July 1-4 at Taylor University, Upland, Indiana.

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